Jerusalem's Central Bus Station
Passengers wating in Jerusalem's Central Bus Station are liable to suffer from the air pollution. Photo by Emil Salman
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Although the Environmental Protection Ministry generally urges people to take public transportation rather than driving their own cars, air pollution at the Jerusalem Central Bus Station has been detected at four to five times the maximum permissible levels and four times the levels found on a downtown Jerusalem street, the ministry has found. The environment ministry conducted the tests in July and August after it received complaints from bus passengers over poor air quality at the station.

Many departing passengers are exposed to exhaust from buses while waiting at the station. Complaints have also been received, however, about poor air quality in the area of the station where patrons disembark from their buses.

Air pollution at concentrations measured by the ministry can cause a range of health problems, including respiratory ailments such as bronchitis and asthma, and circulatory system problems. Even short-term exposure at such high levels, according to medical research, has been found to cause substantial health problems in addition to irritation to the eyes and lungs, headaches and even vomiting.

As a result of its findings, the ministry has ordered the station's management to take steps immediately to seal off the boarding platforms - where the high levels of pollution were found - from the adjacent closed shopping mall area. The ministry has also demanded that the station's management act to ensure that the ventilation system at the station be made more effective in removing air pollutants. As of Sunday, no response was forthcoming from the management of the Jerusalem Central Bus Station.

The air pollution tests revealed high concentrations of nitrogen oxide and particulate matter, especially in the boarding area of the station. Almost every reading carried out by the ministry showed higher than permissible air pollution levels, and half the readings were five times the maximum permissible amounts. One reading revealed nitrogen oxide at 17 times the maximum permissible level.

Air pollution in the area of the station where passengers disembark was lower, but readings that exceed the maximum levels allowed were also noted.